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Japan wins in rout to advance to semifinals


Tsuyoshi Nishioka drove in three runs and Hideaki Wakui made his second consecutive strong start Tuesday to lift Japan to a 10-0 rout of China and clinch a spot in the semifinals of the Beijing Olympic baseball tournament.

Takahiko G.G. Sato, Akihiro Yano and Nishioka delivered run-scoring hits in a three-run second inning at Wukesong Baseball Field and Japan cruised to win a game that was called after seven innings under the mercy rule while improving its record to 4-2 in the preliminary round.

Undefeated South Korea went through to the semifinals as the winner of round-robin play after a 7-4 win over three-time gold medalist Cuba, which has been guaranteed second place and also qualified.

Senichi Hoshino’s team, which squeaked by Canada 1-0 on Monday, pounced on China starter Wang Nan in the second inning with back-to-back RBI doubles to right by Sato and Yano, followed by Nishioka’s single through the hole between third and short.

Atsunori Inaba made it 4-0 in the fourth with an RBI double before Nishioka drove a two-run homer to spark a six-run sixth, which also included run-scoring hits from Hiroyuki Nakajima, Arai and Inaba.

Seibu Lions right-hander Wakui threw a two-hit shutout in his first start since holding Taiwan to a run and three hits over six innings in a 6-1 win last Thursday. Japan will take on the United States in its final game of the preliminary round on Wednesday.

South Korea’s Lee Seung-yeop drew a two-walk from Luis Rodriguez in the seventh, then Lee Dae-ho singled to put runners on first and second. Pedro Lazo relieved and immediately gave up an RBI double to Lee Jin-young.

Frederich Cepeda hit an RBI single in the eighth for Cuba (5-1) following Alexander Malleta’s leadoff double, the cleanup hitter’s first time reaching base. But South Korean reliever Yoon Suk-min then recorded three straight outs to end any chance of a Cuban rally.

Lazo, the burly right-hander who was on the mound Friday when American Jayson Nix fouled a ball into his left eye and later needed microsurgery to close the wound, plunked Ko with one out in the eighth.

South Korea has been tested, like in its 8-7 victory over the United States in the opener for both teams, but so far has been the most consistent team of the Beijing Games.